We asked some of our wonderful volunteers who give up their time to help Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust about their experiences. Here Jaime tells us about being a helpline volunteer.
A diagnosis of cervical cancer in November 2010 left Jaime Boath in need of a friendly ear. Shortly after successful surgery early in 2011, she signed up as a volunteer on the newly launched Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust Helpline so she could help others in the same situation...
When I was diagnosed I was left to my own devices without much information or support, and I really wanted to speak to someone about what I was going through. I came across Jo's a few months later when they were recruiting the first round of Helpline volunteers.
After my treatment, I really wanted to get involved. I went on a weekend training course, which was great. What you're learning about is quite intense, but Jo's make it fun and I met some wonderful people.
I take a range of calls, from parents who are worried about their daughters and the HPV vaccine, and men with questions about their partners' health, to women who have just been diagnosed or who have been through treatment.
I don't talk about my own experiences because everyone's journey is different. But the fact I've been there myself helps; I can reassure callers that there's no such thing as a stupid question. I know it's also valuable just having someone to talk to, especially a stranger.
The feedback I get when I finish a call is always good – people are relieved having offloaded to someone who, even if they can't answer all your questions, can signpost other support. I've never had to finish a call knowing that the caller is still upset, and that's a great feeling.
I've found volunteering for Jo's – providing support people can't get anywhere else – such a positive, rewarding experience.